Holy Saturday 2017

Once again we have reached Holy Saturday, a day of great silence and stillness as earth awaits the Resurrection. Our churches are empty of colour and warmth, there are no sacraments to affirm the bonds between this world and the next, and we experience to the full what life without Christ is like. For a monk or nun, indeed for most of us, I suspect, life is largely lived in ‘Holy Saturday mode’ as we go on, as best we can, waiting, waiting, waiting for God to act. Today, when the threat of war hangs heavy over the world, the illusion of control with which we try to comfort ourselves at other times is revealed for what it is: sheer illusion. Most of the big things that affect our lives are entirely beyond our control, but we ignore that. We like to think that we are in charge — only we aren’t, really. Does that mean we are mere puppets, eking out our existence in bitterness of soul, without hope? Surely not. God created us in his own image and likeness, and there is in each of us something that reflects, uniquely and beautifully, our Creator. We are called to co-operate with him, to allow grace to transform us, but we waste so much time trying to resist, to do things our own way. It takes Holy Saturday to jerk us back into reality.

The ancient tradition of the Harrowing of Hell, when Christ descended into the underworld to release those who had died before his coming is a wonderful reminder of the infinite mercy and tenderness of God. When we cannot act, he does — with limitless power. Today is a day when we are invited to think about this unseen activity of God and the restoration to humankind of its original dignity and freedom in Christ. We do not know what the future holds, either for us as individuals or as a world, but of this we can be sure. In the bleakness of Holy Saturday, as night pases into dawn, something extraordinary will happen. We shall be one with the events of two thousand years ago. Christ will rise, never to die again; and we shall rise with him. All the sin and shame with which we have marred his features in us will be wiped away. We shall sing of the ‘happy fault, the necessary sin of Adam’ which gave us such and so great a Redeemer, and all creation will respond with its own great ‘alleluia’. This is our Easter faith, and already it casts its light upon the world.

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4 thoughts on “Holy Saturday 2017”

  1. The Harrowing of Hell always fascinates me – although we mention it regularly in the Apostles Creed, it is not discussed much, in my experience. At Mass last week our priest commented that even among Catholics the concept of Hell is ignored/avoided and has become deeply unfashionable. I am glad we are not threatened with it as often as in the past (fear is not the best teacher) but to lose it as a concept altogether or allow it to drift to the fuzzy edge of our spiritual thought is a mistake. If Jesus descended there with such purpose then it is more than worthy of our thought and meditation.

  2. Today, I said Morning Prayer before going shopping. The first opportunity to do so having been under pressure for activities connected with Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, including preaching twice, leading a Communion Service (by extension) as all of our Clergy were at the Chrism Mass at the Cathedral.

    I found myself by yesterday evening, overtired with a feeling of loss, which I can’t explain, apart from having overloaded on prayer and events, which have placed my limited facilities under some strain.

    And tomorrow I know there is much to do. I am praying for those who will be working to prepare Church this evening for the services – starting with the Service of Light, very, very early.

    I do hope that your Easter has been all that you wished for in prayer and reflection – because, mine certainly has.

  3. As we wait for our Saviour’s resurrection, it is important to note that God doesn’t create the world’s problems but He does have the answers. May His grace, peace and love be with us all for ever.

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